Davis Cup: No room for excuses now, says Bhupathi

India’s non-playing captain Mahesh Bhupathi said home comfort and the X-factor of Calcutta South Club’s grasscourts hold India in good stead in the tie against Italy.

Non-playing captain Mahesh Bhupathi believes India has got all the advantage it needs to beat Italy this time.   -  PTI

Non-playing captain Mahesh Bhupathi on Wednesday said there is no room for excuses in the Davis Cup Qualifier against Italy starting here on Friday, especially after India got whatever it had desired.

Bhupathi said home comfort and the X-factor of Calcutta South Club’s grasscourts hold India in good stead in the tie. “We definitely feel that this is our best chance to beat Italy on grass. Hard or clay are their strengths,” Bhupathi told reporters on the eve of the draw.

Left-right combination

Having a left-right singles combination in the form of Prajnesh Gunneswaran and Ramkumar Ramanathan is a captain’s dream, Bhupathi said.

“Like in cricket when the opening combination is left-right, I am going with left-right on day one, it is a great variation to have,” Bhupathi said. “The bonus is that Prajnesh is now near the top-100 and full of confidence. We can rest a lot of hopes on him.”

The skipper was however wary of the Italian doubles duo, likely to be Andreas Seppi and Simone Bolelli.

“One of the last matches I played, I lost to Bolelli and Seppi in Dubai. They won the tournament and that was a ATP 500. They have the experience. Bolelli has won a Slam. If I had to pick a team, I would pick them but if I had to pick a team on grass, I would choose ours.”

Having lost in the away play-offs to Serbia, India, a three-time Davis Cup runner-up, is drawn to play against Italy at home in the Qualifiers in its bid for a coveted place in November’s 18-team Finals in Madrid.

Italy, which had lost to France in the World Group quarters, will have the unfamiliarity of grasscourts, something the host is looking at capitalising.

READ: India’s Italy tie to be aired live on Doordarshan

“We will know on Saturday if the advantage played out for us or not. So we’ve got the grass now I don’t think we have any room for excuses anymore,” Bhupathi said.

Contrary to widespread criticism all over the world over the new format, Bhupathi said the shortened arrangement would give India an edge over Italy which is ranked 10th, nine places above the host.

“When you’re trying to beat players who are better than you it’s always easier to do it in two sets rather than three out of five. So, when it comes to playing big teams, who are constantly in the world group, I think this change in format is great for the Indian team,” he said.

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Bhupathi further said that the team may start as underdogs but is confident of upsetting Italy and do an encore of what Vijay Amritraj and Co did at the same venue in the World Group first round in 1985.

“Internally within the 10 of us I think the conversation has never changed. There is a belief that everyone can contribute to hopefully upset the Italians,” he said. Italy currently leads 4-1 in head-to-head.

“That’s how sport is. When a team is playing another team in any sport, one team is underdog while the other is favourite. We are going in as underdogs, that’s the bottom line.”